Denmark, Finland among countries to screen classics, new pix

SHANGHAI — This year’s Shanghai Film Festival will boast a distinctly Nordic feel, judging by early indications from the selection committee.

Now in its seventh year, SIFF has been criticized for a lack of focus, for screening a hodgepodge of stale Hollywood fare, obscure European titles and government-approved domestics.

But this year, the fest, set for June 5-15, will be centered by 10 films from northern Europe.

According to Chen Xiaomeng, executive secretary-general of the festival organizing committee, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway will each screen a classic and a newly released film. Chen is set to attend Sweden’s Goteborg Film Festival later this month in preparation.

“We have been attending that festival since 1999 and have been very impressed with the quality of films coming out of the region,” Chen says. “Films from Sweden and Iceland have already joined the festival in the past. We were looking for a theme for this year’s festival that would help to give us a real identity for the future. Nordic films were a great fit for us.”

A recent report in China Daily suggests there also will be a presence from Germany and several British films “adapted from literary classics.”

Hollywood has little to fear, however. “We have already been in touch with MGM and Sony Pictures to preview their filmmaking plans for the first half of the year,” the paper quoted Chen.

Last year’s Panorama section of the festival included big B.O. hits including Gregory Hoblit’s “Hart’s War.” But the Shanghai fest consistently faces the problem of trying to attract films that are still in release. In the case of “Hart’s War,” pic had preemed almost four months earlier.

“Hopefully, we can get a global premiere of a movie in Shanghai rather than showing old ones,” Chen says.

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